Slaugh­ter of the book­ies

Si­mon Nott goes to Chel­tenham



As al­ways on the Tues­day of the Chel­tenham Fes­ti­val hope springs eter­nal.The pun­ters for­get that it’s the hard­est meet­ing on earth and in­dulge in life-chang­ing mul­ti­ples gen­uinely ex­pect­ing to get them up. On the other side of the fence the book­ies for­get that they were just a last hur­dle fall away from a hu­mungous clob­ber­ing last year. So much so that Ben Keith of Star Sports was giv­ing away stickers to all his win­ning pun­ters.I’m not sure how many he had made but I’d wa­ger not enough. The books did get Mullins’ Min beaten in the open­ing Sky Bet Supreme Novices' Hur­dle but only by Al­tior the 4/1 se­cond-in and not so great if you’re the one that laid the £16,000-£4,000.

The first real test and hot­pot to get stuck into was in the Rac­ing Post Arkle Chal­lenge Tro­phy Chase with Dou­van ap­pear­ing un­beat­able.One firm re­ported lay­ing a £80,000-£220,000 though that punter missed the 2/5 laid to £2,000£5,000 but did bet­ter than the slow-coach who struck a £20,000-£60,000. Noth­ing slow about the win­ner though all the odds-on look­ing value at the line.

The Ul­tima Hand­i­cap Chase gave the book­ies some respite with a 24-run­ner hand­i­cap to get stuck into but not much. David Pipe’s 11/1 win­ner Un Temps Pour Tout would have been a pop­u­lar choice.

Book­mak­ers and pun­ters alike were en­ti­tled to get their punt­ing heads on for the fea­ture Stan James Cham­pion Hur­dle Chal­lenge Tro­phy and so they did.Big hit­ters waded in £75,000-£15,000 The New One,a £180,000-£20,000 was re­ported on My Tent Or Yours while there were just un­told bun­dles for An­nie Power at 5/2, a real pub­lic horse.The crowd ac­tu­ally did go wild when she won, with deaf­en­ing cries of‘Ruby Ruby’as the vic­to­ri­ous com­bi­na­tion walked past the stands. One book­maker mut­tered that ‘This is turn­ing into an ex­pen­sive day’.

It was about to get a whole lot worse. VroumVroum Mag may have looked one to take on in the OLBG Mares' Hur­dle with 19 run­ners. Some lay­ers licked their wounds and got their heads down tak­ing on pun­ters with the smell of their blood in their nos­trils. I’m not sure how the firm that laid the £32,000-£44,000 felt as it saun­tered up the hill for an­other Mullins/Walsh vic­tory, a lit­tle bit sick I’d imag­ine.


Once a dis­as­trous Tues­day had been di­gested the book­ies found their hu­mour again. Down in Lower Tatts Ar­maloft Alex was re­gal­ing me with tales of one book­maker who was sav­ing on exes by hous­ing his staff not in the Queens Ho­tel but with var­i­ous re­la­tions of ex-girl­friends. I no­ticed that my old boss Dave Phillips was no longer work­ing his pitch. “He swapped it for Torquay United,” quipped one wag;he is in­deed the chair­man now.

Lit­tle fish are sweet so Wil­lie Mullins Yorkhill 3/1 vic­tory in the open­ing Nep­tune In­vest­ment was grate­fully re­ceived, all the money hav­ing been for Yan­worth backed from 11/8 into 11/10 to a mul­ti­tude of four-fig­ure bets.

That was just a taster for the lay­ers.They got a right re­sult in the RSA get­ting 6/4 More Of That and 5/2 No More He­roes turned over by Blak­lion backed from 11/1 into 8/1.

Be­tween races a lucky Bet­daq punter re­ceived a cheque for over £200k for just a £2 ac­cu­mu­la­tor, great to see he kept his nerve not cash­ing out ei­ther.

The Co­ral Cup was one where the ring let the pun­ters make their books for them. They were prob­a­bly happy with Di­a­mond King who had been one of the short ones in the morn­ing but couldn’t be given away on

Wait­ing for the Off

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